Research: ABEL and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 235

Abstract

ABEL and COLLEAGUES,  (1)Department of Health and Human Performance, Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA. AllisonAbel@txstate.edu reviewed the research about the effect of yoga upon pulmonary function in order to determine if regular yoga training improves pulmonary function in apparently healthy individuals.

Background

Yoga is a popular form of exercise in the Western world, and yoga's effects on pulmonary function have been investigated previously. The purpose of this article is to review this research systematically and determine if regular yoga training improves pulmonary function in apparently healthy individuals.

Methodology

Using the Alternative Health Watch, the Physical Education Index, Medline,(®) and the SPORTdiscus databases; and the keywords yoga, respiration, and pulmonary function, a comprehensive search was conducted that yielded 57 studies. Of these studies selections were made to include only experimental studies written in English, published in peer-reviewed journals after 1980, and investigating the effects of regular yoga practice on pulmonary function in healthy individuals participating in the studies.

Results

Yoga improved pulmonary function, as measured by maximum inspiratory pressure, maximum expiratory pressure, maximum voluntary ventilation, forced vital capacity, forced expiratory volume in 1 second, and peak expiratory flow rate, in all (N=9), but 1, study.

Conclusion

Overall, pulmonary function appears to improve with a minimum of 10 weeks of regular yoga practice, and the magnitude of this improvement is related to fitness level and/or the length of time the subjects spend practising pranayama (i.e., breathing exercises). In other words, greater improvements in pulmonary function are more likely to be seen in less-fit individuals and/or those that engage in longer periods of pranayama. Additional studies examining various yoga practices are warranted to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the effects of yoga techniques on pulmonary functions.

References

Abel AN(1), Lloyd LK, Williams JS. The effects of regular yoga practice on pulmonary function in healthy individuals: a literature review. J Altern Complement Med. 19(3):185-90. Mar 2013. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0516. Epub  Sep 14 2012.  

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